Wheel Report – Summer, 2023 – SPECIAL EDITION

From the Desk of the Division Superintendent

Robert “Bob” Johnson, Superintendent (2022-24)

This special edition of the Wheel Report addresses a number of activities and events so please be sure to read the entire post.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the people who hosted meetings and / or presented clinics during the past year (2022 / 2023). This was our first full year of face to face meetings since the 2018 / 2019 program year (something called COVID-19 seems to have gotten in the way since then). Attendance at the past year’s meetings was quite good although not quite up to the level that is was prior to COVID. My aim, with your help, is to not only get back to previous attendance levels but to exceed them.

East Broad Top Railroad Tour

The date for the planned special tour of the East Broad Top Railroad has been set for Friday, July 28th (Now Friday, 11 August). I realize that this date may not work for some of you that have to work on Friday but it was selected to avoid the large weekend crowds and allow those of us attending to have a better experience. Our semi-official hosts for the day will be our own Jane Clarke and her helper Pete Clarke. Both of them are very active in the Friends of the East Broad Top and are quite knowledgeable as to the history and operation of the EBT.

NOTE: The estimated cost for the day will be – $46.00 per person for all of the various tickets you will need (pay as you go – not a single ticket).

The schedule for the day is as follows:

  • 10:00 AM – Meet at the Friends of the EBT museum in Robertsdale, PA – Tour Museum & adjacent mine area
  • 11:30 AM – Lunch (Pizza) Provided by the SMD
  • Noon – Depart for Orbisonia (Est. arrival 12:45)
  • 1:00 PM – Guided shop tour
  • 3:00 PM – Ride Train (Engine 16)
  • 4:00 PM – Trolley ride

You are welcome to bring guests with you. We do ask that you email southmountaindiv@gmail.com if you are planning on participating and let us know how many people will be in your group.

2023/24 Division Meeting Schedule

The regular monthly meetings of the SMD will start in September of 2023 and run through May of 2024. Meetings are held on the 2nd Sunday of the month September through March starting at 2:00 PM. In lieu of the April meeting we will again be hosting an annual SMD Mini-Convention at the Blue Ridge Summit fire hall (across the street from Main Line Hobby Supply). The May meeting, as usual, is moved to the 3rd Sunday to avoid a conflict with Mother’s Day.

For those of you who are not currently participating in the regular division meetings, a meeting normally starts with a social period to allow everyone to enjoy the host’s layout (if they have one) or to examine other aspects of the host’s modeling efforts. This is followed by a short business meeting and then we frequently have a modeling clinic put on by one of our members or a guest presenter.

The SMD does not collect any dues or supplemental fees. The meeting host typically provides refreshments and we do accept voluntary donations at the meetings to help defray the costs of these refreshments.

Membership in both the South Mountain Division (SMD) and the Mid-East Region (MER) of the NMRA is automatic if you live in the areas highlighted on the map below.

Call for Meeting Hosts and Clinicians

We make an effort each year to schedule most of our meetings at locations that are either new to the division, or locations that we have not visited for several years. Each meeting will give you the opportunity to see how your fellow modelers have approached the hobby and to learn new techniques.

If you would like to host a meeting during the 2023/24 program year and/or present a clinic, or have a suggestion for a future clinic, please email southmountaindiv@gmail.com as soon as possible.

2023/24 Division Communication Strategy

Current plans call for the Wheel Report to be issued on a monthly basis starting with the September issue which will come out in mid to late August. Each issue will deal primarily with the upcoming meeting and any current issues of interest to the membership of the division. Other content will include, but not necessarily be limited to:

  • Notices of upcoming events such as train shows. The membership is encouraged to send notices to southmountaindiv@gmail.com for inclusion.
  • Critical Division business that will be taken up during the next meeting for action by the group.
  • Short articles written by members of the SMD and/or photos of interest. These may include articles about your modeling efforts, fan trips, etc. We will also be printing content addressing NMRA content such as the Achievement Program, SMD/MER web content of special interest, etc. Again, the membership is encouraged to provide content.

Please email suggestions for ways we can improve SMD communications to southmountaindiv@gmail.com.

Along those lines we are going to try to cover, at least, the business portion of upcoming meetings (and clinics when practical) with a ZOOM link.

NMRA & MER Links

Don’t forget that both the NMRA Magazine and the Mid-Eastern Region (MER) newsletter, The Local, are now being distributed electronically. If you are not receiving these publications and other digital content, check to make sure your email address is current.

Change your mailing or email address: https://www.nmra.org/request-membership-info-changes

Join or renew with the South Mountain Division: https://www.nmra.org/store/membership

Read The Local: https://mer-nmra.com/elocals.html

Read The NMRA Magazine: https://www.nmra.org/nmra-digital-magazine

Read recent eBulletins: https://www.nmra.org/members/bulletins

Surf web content from the Turntable: https://www.nmra.org/members/turntable

Chat on the Interchange: https://www.nmra.org/nmra-interchange

Attend the Region Convention: https://www.mer2023.org/index.html

Attend the National Convention: https://2023texasexpress.com/

Growing the Division

After several years of declining attendance participation in South Mountain Division activities seemed to stabilize a couple of years prior to COVID and then started to slowly grow. Post COVID active participation has been steady but slightly down from 2019. NMRA membership in the SMD area has been more or less constant at around 100 members. As previously noted, if you are a member of the NMRA, you are also a member of the SMD, so we are encouraging you to become active in your Division. You will meet other modelers, get fresh ideas to help your with modeling, and hopefully just have fun.

For those of you who are active… If you know of a fellow modeler who is a member of the NMRA, but does not participate in our Division activities, encourage them to do so.

Modelers who are not members of the NMRA are welcome to attend one or two meeting of the SMD as a guest but for insurance purposes they will be required to join the NMRA after that. I encourage all of you to reach out to non-NMRA modelers and encourage them to join us.

We have a supply of a very nice color brochures that you can use as a recruiting tool. These were printed just prior to COVID with the primary intent of placing them in area hobby shops to reach out to modelers. Due to recent NMRA changes (primarily concerning the NMRA Bulletin going to an electronic publication) some of the info on membership is out of date, but should not cause any issues.

Starting this fall we will start placing these brochures in area hobby shops again so if you have any suggestions as to where to placed them let me know.

I hope to see you soon; either at the EBT in July or at our first meeting in September (location to be determined).

Bob Johnson, Division Superintendent


Author: smdnmra

South Mountain Division, Mid-Eastern Region, National Model Railroad Association